An outline of Bourne and its past
The town owes its origin to the Roman road upon which it was built, and also to the exceptionally fine-quality water supply derived locally from natural springs. The name “Bourne” (or “Bourn”, as the town was originally known) is a common name for a settlement and derives from the Anglo-Saxon meaning “water” or “stream”
The Ancient Woodland of Bourne Woods, although much reduced, is still extant and originally formed part of the ancient Forest of Kesteven and is now managed by the Forestry Commission.
The earliest documentary reference to Brunna, meaning stream, is from a document of 960, and the town appeared in the Domesday Book as Brune.
Bourne Abbey, (charter 1138), formerly held and maintained land in Bourne and other parishes. In later times this was known as the manor of 'Bourne Abbots'. Whether the canons knew that name is less clear. The estate was given by the Abbey's founder, Baldwin fitz Gilbert de Clare, son of Gilbert fitz Richard, and later benefactors. The abbey was established under the Arrouaisian order. Its fundamental rule was that of Augustine and as time went on, it came to be regarded as Augustinian. The Ormulum, an important Middle English Biblical gloss, was probably written in the abbey in around 1175.
Bourne Castle was built on land that is now the Wellhead Gardens in South Street
The biggest landowner in the history of Bourne was undoubtedly Oger the Breton. He was a Frenchman, also known as Ogerus Briton, who came to Britain with the invading army of William the Conqueror in 1066 and was rewarded for his loyalty with holdings dispossessed from the English. When the Domesday Book was published in 1086, giving the results of the new king's great land survey, he had a total of 19 entries, all in the Bourne area and so the indications are that he was a very important Norman knight.
There was a corn riot in Bourne in 1740 when a gang of angry townspeople, mostly women, tried to prevent a consignment of grain from being sent by barge to Spalding along the Bourne Eau. This was a year of rising prices and a scarcity of food and they resented corn grown locally being sent to feed people in other parts of the country when they themselves were hungry. The mob stole wheat from the boat and held it up until peace officers arrived when five women were arrested and subsequently committed to the House of Correction at Folkingham.
One of the most dreadful afflictions of past times was smallpox, an acute and highly contagious infection that was usually fatal and which broke out in February 1893 among Irish navvies working for the Midland and Great Northern Railway Company who were building a new track to the west of Bourne. Some of the men were living at a common lodging house in South Street but the infection soon spread, notably to several inmates of the workhouse in St Peter's Road. Patients were sent to the fever hospital in Manor Lane and a full time nurse recruited from Hull to look after them. The outbreak had subsided by June but there appears to have been a cover-up, official or otherwise, to hide the incompetence of local medical officers in charge and to abate public alarm over the disease and no records survive about the number of patients either taken ill or who died.